Our Victorian era-inspired European honeymoon of awesomeness in 16 countries

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us at Stonehenge

Travelers: Virtual Alicia and The Mister

Budget: ALL-OUT! ($10,000+)

Where did you go? We wanted to go to Europe for our honeymoon. Since we had to pay for it ourselves, we started planning in 2010. We booked everything in 2012 after our wedding, and we paid it all off in 2014. Our trip included two cruises (one of the Mediterranean and one of Baltic capital cities), a land tour of the UK (excluding Wales), and two four-day stays (one in Rome and the other in Dublin).

Pisa, Italy

We visited 16 countries in all. Our Mediterranean cruise departed from Venice, Italy and went to Athens and Piraeus in Greece, Kuşadası and Istanbul in Turkey, Mykonos in Greece, Naples, Civitavecchia, Florence/Pisa, and Livorno in Italy, Provence and Toulon in France, and Barcelona, Spain. We went during a heat wave, and it was very humid. We chose this cruise over our first choice because it went to more ports of interest to us. Naples and Marseilles weren’t on our first choice, so we altered plans after making our deposit.

Marseilles, France

The Baltic Capitals we visited were Copenhagen, Warnemünde and Berlin, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and Stockholm. We caught a cold front in the Baltics and got hailed on in Finland! It was crazy! We chose this cruise for the places we would visit and to see the ballet in Russia.

St. Petersburg view from the Neva River

The ultimate purpose of this trip was to experience a lot of places where we’d like to visit again and spend more time. We accomplished that, for sure.

What did you do? We did a lot of walking in the Mediterranean and Rome. We did some walking city tours, a hike of Mount Vesuvius, and cruised around the shops in Kuşadası. We did a lot of sleeping in the Baltics. We didn’t plan as many excursions, so we took our time exploring places of interest.

us at Malahide Castle, Ireland

In Dublin, we did some walking tours, but we also did a city tour by bus. It was a hop on, hop off affair. It was a really fun way of experiencing the city.

The Mister at Guinness The view from our window- Clontarf Castle (Dublin, Irelland)

Our luggage was lost during our connection from Copenhagen to Dublin via Heathrow. We weren’t alone though. Heathrow lost almost our entire flight’s luggage. When we left the airport, the line to report lost luggage was 55 people deep! At three days into our stay, we broke down and bought new clothes until ours arrived. Fortunately, our bags arrived the next day.

Tower Bridge

The UK land tour was nice. Both of us were dreading the 7:00 and 8:00 am departures, but those weren’t so bad. We had to get up early to put the luggage out for collection, but we could nap on the bus without feeling rushed or stigmatized.

The Roman Baths in Bath, England The house of James and Lily Potter in Lacock, England The house in which Professor Slughorn was a Couch in Lacock, England William Wordsworth's grave

The bus always did at least three stops a day for potty breaks, so we got to eat breakfast and pick up snacks every day.

Scotland by Urquhart Castle, Scotland Urquhart Castle

Our favorite place was Edinburgh…

us with Loch Ness in the background The Mister going into the Games Workshop in The Royal Mile (Edinburgh, Scotland) me with Dolly, the first cloned sheep (Edinburgh Museum)

The city was open relatively late, so we could get up around 10 and not feel like we wasted half the day. The Mister got to go into the BEST guitar shop in all of the cities we went to. Believe it or not, Edinburgh also had the best pizza of all the cities we went to.

us inside the Colosseum

Rome was our least favorite place. Everywhere you go charges for water, so be prepared to drop $6US on a bottle. There is no free water with meals. This was super-sad to us since that’s mostly all we drink.

Pompeii Fresco first Italian pizza (Pisa, Italy)

What would you have done differently? We went over our budget a bit because the pound and euro were both high at the time. We had also decided to do some extra tours, so that added to our trip budget. We had planned to spend about $5,000 (US) on food, gifts, taxis, etc, but wound up spending $7,000. Most of this was spent on water in Italy. (Haha! Just kidding.)

The Mister finds a cat in Athens

We bought two CamelBaks for the trip since we knew we were going to do a lot of hiking and walking. My advice is to bring more water. In a humid city during a heat wave, you don’t want to run out. Fill up water bottles before leaving your room. In hindsight, we probably went through a gallon a day when we were walking. It’s better to have it than to not.

me at the Mykonos Folklore Museum

Finally, don’t be afraid to take lots and lots of pictures. We have over 9,000 between us. I made a photo album of the whole trip when we got back. When I save up, I want to make an album for each part of the trip. Still, with all those pictures, we feel like we didn’t get enough.

me in our favorite of Raphael's Rooms (Vatican)

What’s your best travel advice for other offbeat honeymooners? Do not go through Heathrow as a connection point. Ever. Haha! We had so many bad moments with that airport. I think we connected there four times, and we had a problem every time.

us at The Parthenon

Places that seem dangerous are very safe if you’re traveling with a tour group. If you don’t plan to book tours through a cruise or land tour company, I highly recommend City Wonders Tours. We used them for Rome, and we would use them to explore other cities in the future. I’ve also heard amazing things about Viator.

Hop on, hop off buses like City Sightseeing are also amazing. Just keep in mind that unless you’ve purchased admission at the time of booking, you will have to pay to go into some places. Bring money.

Us at the Vatican

Comments on Our Victorian era-inspired European honeymoon of awesomeness in 16 countries

  1. This looks amazing! You really hit everywhere!

    I just wanted to say in case anyone else is thinking of going to Rome:
    – Rome is FULL of little water fountains that flow into the street, and that water is completely safe to drink, so you can just refill your water bottle from there during the day. (They look like this: http://www.revealedrome.com/2010/07/can-you-drink-from-romes-water-fountains-really.html)
    – Unless you are literally standing next to the Colosseum, a small bottled water should be about 1 euro to 1.50. A large 2-litre bottle in a restaurant is usually about 3 euros.
    – You might not usually get free water with meals but (a) you can always ask, some places will give it to you anyway and (b) if you order a coffee (an espresso is normally about 80 cents – 1 euro) they will happily give you free tap water with that.

    Stay hydrated in Italy peeps! 🙂

    • The pipes in Rome are lead, so we were advised against drinking from them. Also, I did not experience getting free tap water when ordering espressos. The prices at the time we’re also higher than what you mentioned, about $2.50US a shot. This was consistent almost everywhere we went : (

      There is a great little newspaper stand across the street from the Colloseum had water for $1.50 euros a bottle. We bought so many of them after we left.

      As for the 2-liter bottles of water, that price is right! Last year, the euro was valued at $1.80 US. That’s nearly $6US a bottle. It’s really high when you’re used to paying $.99 for 1.5 liters.

      • Sorry, didn’t realise you were avoiding the pipes too, as you mentioned drinking the tap water in hotels – it’s all just the same supply. But if you’re avoiding tap water all together, I get it, though I don’t think it’s too necessary. I guess it’s the dollar that makes the big difference then!

        Who told you tap water was unsafe there though? I’m in Italy several months a year and I’ve never heard of anyone being told this, I can’t even find it on Google.

        • Crazy about the tap water. We heard it from a couple of locals and seversl tour guides in different cities in Italy.

          Originally, honeymoons were not pleasant. Husbands often kidnapped their brides and marry them against the wishes of her family. The couple would then go on the run across country borders so the family could not find them. The couple would remain gone for 1 to 3 months.

          In the Victorian Era, marriages were negotiated between families of the bride and groom. The couple would get married, and then they would go away for 1-3 months to get to know each other, explore the world before they settled down to start a family, and the husband would make network connections for business and in academia. Our honeymoon was inspired by honeymoons depicted in George Eliot’s Middlemarch. Yay!

          • Huh. That is crazy. I know some Italians avoid drinking too much tap water because it can have high calcium levels and some people there are concerned that it causes kidney stones long term., but no one’s ever said anything about lead… Short term the water in Italy really shouldn’t be a problem.

            I guess my other tip if anyone else is going would be to buy your bottled water in the supermarket and not in a bar – then it will be much closer to the price you mention in dollars.

            Anyway, looks like an awesome trip!

    • I was going to say the same thing – the tap water in most of Europe is safe to drink so this can be a good way of getting free water. I just spent 4 days in Paris during a heat wave and got a lot of free water by buying a 1.5 litre bottle and then filling it up whenever I came across a tap.

  2. I really enjoyed this post. I remember feeling confused when I realized there was often a charge for tap water in Italy, especially coming from France. I wasn’t there long enough to figure out the above-mentioned tricks, but I drank a lot of cappuccino. I quite enjoyed Rome, though.

    Your land tour of the British Isles left out Wales! You will have to go back. 😉 Wales is gorgeous and fascinating. I seriously need to visit Scotland, though. I didn’t make it all the way up there, but I wish I had.

    • Looking back, I really enjoyed Rome. I want to go back to hit up spots that we missed. The Mister had a terrible time though for so many reasons. He’s willing to go back for a day trip, but he doesn’t want to stay there again.

  3. The Mediterranean cruises one of the best. Its an experience visiting the cultural capitals, stunning coastlines, sophisticated riviera towns and the most inviting beaches.

  4. I’m so jealous! I’ve lived in Europe most of my life and you’ve already seen more of it than I have (although I’m slowly making up for lost time). I’d love to visit Rome one day, and I highly recommend you check out Wales (particularly the coast and the countryside) when you have an opportunity. (Also bonus points for correctly labelling Tower Bridge. I don’t think I’ve ever been there without hearing at least one person call it London Bridge.)

    • London bridge, which is now located in Arizona 😉 (The rumor that they bought it thinking it was Tower Bridge they were getting has been denied both by the buyer and by the City of London people who sold it. It is still a very good rumor 😉 )

  5. Wow! Looks like a fantastic honeymoon! The Baltic cruise is also something that’s on my ‘to travel’ list 🙂
    One little remark about the pictures though, the second pictures of the castle in Scotland is not Urquhart but it’s Eilean Donan Castle 😉 We’re going to see it again ourselves for our holidays in September. Scotland is such a beautiful country!

  6. This is amazing: The hubs and I went on the same Baltic capitals cruise for our honeymoon! We also backpacked around the UK! This was in 2009, but I wish we could have also done the Mediterranean. It looks so wonderful! We did go through Wales- Cardiff is one of my very favorite places in the world. I wish we could have had more time in Stockholm! The cruise didn’t stop there for very long!

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